CAN Warrington Wolves put their Wembley disappointment behind them?

They will certainly aim to do just that as they return to Super League action against Salford Red Devils tomorrow night.

Memories of the Challenge Cup Final loss to Wigan Warriors will still be fresh in the minds, but will they banish them at The Halliwell Jones Stadium?

Our Wire reporter Matt Turner picks out five key pre-match talking points surrounding the Round 14 clash...

No time for hangovers and self-pity

“HOW you bounce back from days like that defines you.”

They were Sam Burgess’ words this week as he and his players look to put the crushing disappointment of a Wembley defeat behind them.

Naturally, there will have been plenty of soul-searching over what remained of the weekend along with something of a post-mortem after a Challenge Cup Final that promised so much but delivered a performance that never really got going.

As Burgess says, however, what matters now is how they react to what happened in the capital in what will be a big test of the mentality and fortitude their head coach often praises.

This is their chance to prove Saturday really was just a bad day at the office and not the start of something more concerning.

If they allow their heartache and disappointment to consume them, they could find themselves playing catch-up pretty quickly.

Lachlan Fitzgibbon consoles Matt Dufty following the Wembley defeatLachlan Fitzgibbon consoles Matt Dufty following the Wembley defeat (Image:

Another wrong to put right

What happened at Wembley means Wire’s players should not need any added motivation for Friday night.

However, this game offers them the chance to right two wrongs at once.

Saturday was without a doubt their worst performance of the season, but the previous low mark came in the reverse fixture against Salford in Round Nine, when they were beaten 17-12 on a day that will probably be remembered as the one in which Leon Hayes suffered his season-ending ankle injury.

Of course, no blame can be attributed to anybody for what happened to the young half-back, but Warrington would acknowledge there is plenty about that game they would do differently if they had their time again.

Wire lost 17-12 to Salford in Round NineWire lost 17-12 to Salford in Round Nine (Image:

A further chance to shine for youngsters

The team that turns out tomorrow is set to be largely similar to the one that played at Wembley, with a couple of notable exceptions.

Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Jordy Crowther have both succumbed to injuries, meaning Burgess will once again look to a crop of young players looking increasingly at home in Super League to deputise.

Moving Adam Holroyd – the man many considered unfortunate not to make the Wembley 17 – into the back row in Fitzgibbon’s place seems an easy call, while it will be Max Wood or Tom Whitehead who take Crowther’s spot on the bench.

All three have shown themselves to be reliable when called upon this year and now, they will get the chance to step up again.

The fact that there is so little trepidation about their ability to cope both internally and externally shows the kind of progress they have made.

Adam Holroyd will deputise in the back row with Lachlan Fitzgibbon injuredAdam Holroyd will deputise in the back row with Lachlan Fitzgibbon injured (Image: Mike Boden)

Clear where Salford’s threats lie

Once again, Paul Rowley has got Salford punching well above their weight this year as they contend for a play-off spot again.

Scrum-half Marc Sneyd, who leads the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel standings, will be central to their hopes of recording a third win over Warrington in a row and from a Wire perspective, he is a man who must be kept quiet.

That, of course, means making sure he kicks on the back foot and taking away as much of his time as possible, which makes the absence of Crowther – a key leader of their kick pressure – more keenly felt.

It is not just a case of “stop Sneyd, stop Salford” however – powerful centres Nene Macdonald and Tim Lafai can be devastating if allowed to be, both in terms of coming off their own line and attacking the opposition’s.

Man of Steel leader Marc Sneyd will be a key threat for SalfordMan of Steel leader Marc Sneyd will be a key threat for Salford (Image:

Strange period of season nears its end

Right now, Warrington’s season has reached its theoretical halfway point – they have played 17 matches in all competitions with a maximum of 17 still to play (14 regular-season games and a possible three play-off matches).

Once Friday is over and done with, though, they can say they are officially on the downhill run to the end of the Super League campaign.

It will also bring what must have been a strange period closer to its end, with league matches being played in fits and starts around the Challenge Cup.

There is now a block of two fixtures before a fortnight’s break for the international window, after which the run to season’s end will be uninterrupted.

That will probably the time Burgess and his players officially take stock of where they are, but the halfway mark is always seen a symbolic one.